Equicon

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Star Trek Convention
Name: Equicon (almost always combined with Filmcon)
Dates: 1971-1989
Frequency:
Location: Southern California
Type: fan con
Focus: Star Trek
Organization:
Founder:
Founding Date:
URL: Subpages for Equicon:
1973 · 1974 · 1975 · 1976 · 1981 · 1985 · 1986 · 1987 · 1988
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The first Equicon was held in 1971 in Santa Barbara, California.

The early Equicons focused on general science fiction and fantasy and were held in a smaller venue in Santa Barbara.

In 1973, more Star Trek programming was added and for that reason the 1973 Equicon is called "Equicon I" by many fans. The convention also relocated to Los Angeles, CA to handle the larger crowds.

Equicon '77 was canceled, but the convention made a return in the 1980s.

Equicon was one of the few fan run conventions to generate a profit and proceeds usually went to several charities. "...the main reason they made a profit was their location. Situated in California, they had little or no transportation costs to pay out to guests." [1]

Regarding the title of the con: the name came from the time of the year, the vernal equinox.

Its Relationship with "Filmcon"

Equicon was almost always combined with Filmcon.

"Filmcon" and "Equicon" were combined in 1975, and that year, as well as 1976, both "Equicon" and "Filmcon" were utilized in the convention's name.

Between 1977-1988, "Filmcon" was incorporated into "Equicon," but was not listed in the title due to trademark issues. [2]

John Trimble and Bjo Trimble dropped "Equicon" all together in 1989, and attempted a revival of Filmcon in its original format. [3] This con, however, did not take place, nor did any thereafter.

Regarding its numbering: Filmcon 1972 was referred to as 1, Filmcon 1973 was referred to as 2, there appears to have been no Filmcon in 1974, Filmcon in 1975 and 1976 was 3, there were no Filmcons (or Equicons) in 1977, 1988, 1979, and 1980. The Filmcon in 1981 was called "Filmcon 5."

A Bit of History

In 1987, organizer Bjo Trimble was interviewed about the series of conventions:
We did a series of four of them in the 70s, and then several things kind of put us off doing any more. The last one was in 1976. We had one planned for 1977 but it didn't work out: several of the committee had other commitments and we found ourselves, basically, running as a committee of two (laughter). So we stopped doing them. We tried again in 1981 and it didn't work for various reasons [4]. But it got to be [my daughter] Laura's [5]....17th birthday [6] and we asked her what she'd like for a present, and she said, "I'd like another Equicon" so we organised a convention at very short notice. It worked very well; a lot of people came to it that had come to the original conventions and it got that same feeling again. That was 1985, we decided to another one in 1986 and that worked too. [7]

Who Was in Charge?

1971-1972: It is unknown who ran the first, more regional Equicons in Santa Barbara.

1973: billed as the first one, was chaired by William Tuning and Clyde Johnson, with David Gerrold (first listed as in charge of the auction, but then called "member-at-large"), with Bjo Trimble (first listed as being in charge of the art show, then being in charge of the Futuristic Fashion Show), see Equicon/1973 for more.

1974: co-chaired by John Trimble and Craig Miller (20 years old, before his employment with Lucasfilm), see Equicon/1974 for more.

1975: chaired by Jean Peacock and Jamie Hanrahan with Bjo Trimble in charge of the Fashion Show, Bjo and John Trimble in charge of the art show, Pearl Rae Stickler, John Trimble, Nancy Bourdages, in charge of the Masquerade, D.C. Fontana was the Celebrity Coordinator, see Equicon/1975 for more.

1976: chaired by Bjo Trimble, the Costume Parade by David Gerrold, the Celebrity Coordinator was D.C. Fontana, see Equicon/1976 for more.

1981: John and Bjo, see Equicon/1981 for more.

1985: chaired by John and Bjo, see Equicon/1985 for more.

1987: chaired by Bjo and John Trimble. The program book doesn't list any other volunteers.

1988: chaired by Bjo and John Trimble.

1989: planned by Bjo and John Trimble, did not materialize

Gene Roddenberry's 1976 Comments Regarding This Con

SS: What kind of money is being transacted here at these conventions?

GR: I understand that quite a lot of money has been made at the conventions. At Equicon, however, and the February "Committee" Convention, really with the amount of money that group who puts them on make, they could have done much better going out door-to-door to sell vacuum cleaners during the same amount of time it took them to put the whole thing together. [8]

Conventions Before the Internet

Before email and flat rate long distance phone calls, most convention communication was done via the US mail. The Equicon convention organizers soon found themselves swamped with registrations and letters from thousands of attendees. The progress reports often contained lengthy reprints of these letters along with the answers, ads and announcements, requests for volunteers and information about the organizers.

Below are excerpts from an Equicon 1974 progress report, one which ran 20 pages. See Descriptions and Advice for 1974 Con-Goers for much, MUCH more.

Will Attending Equicon Make Me a Fan?

I am a very "ardent" Star Trek fan and am also an artist. Because I am this kind of fan and collect scrapbooks, books, novels, paperclippings, comics, etc, on Star Trek, I still do not feel that is enough. So I would like some information on the upcoming convention, EQUICON 74. Because I feel that I will be a real fan after attending this convention. Do you agree?

(There is no magic moment when AUTOMATICALLY become a F*A*N! Some fans never go to a convention or collect a thing, but their attitude is per Star Trek! Other people will go to a con just to nit-pick, complain, obstruct and make sure their own interests are forwarded at whatever cost to anyone else's pleasure: are they fans? FANS have an active interest in helping -- look at the many charities in Star Trek fandom -- and in offering constructive aid to con-committees, and in arriving with the right frame of mind to a con in order to have a Good Time -- which is NOT going to be served on a silver platter, by the way: you wwill have to work a bit at it! But with the RIGHT ATTITUDE, you can become a FAN. So plan on coming to EQUICON 74 with the most enthusiasm possible, and PLAN on having fun, and "becoming a fan" will take care of itself, without your having to worry much about it!)

Getting Your Parents to Say "Yes."

I've met lots of kids who said they'd have attended the Equicon 73 convention if there had been someone to take them. Isn't there something we can do? - Richard B." and' "My parents are sorta unhappy about the idea of my going to your convention. Is there anything I can tell them? Would it be O.K. if they came along? -N.F.

(The word "convention" seems to mean drunken businessmen, careening down hotel halls, playing practical jokes on passer by! To science fiction fans, "convention" means getting together with people of like interests, to share a fine time of movies, speeches, meeting others, and generally having a good time, without being destructive to property or self. The most serious problem a young conventioneer might have is staying up too late to trade film clips or sing folk songs! We can only hope your folks give us a chance. Show them the committee listing, so they'll know we aren't a bunch of nuts, but responsible citizens with normal family lives, jobs and other everyday things.
Also, try to help out from your end, too: stop talking about Star Trek every minute and indicate a healthy interest in something else for a change! Then your parents won't feel they are perpetrating a fanatic fixation if they let you come to EQUICON 74, but merely adding a new dimension to a fascinating hobby. Right? RIGHT! Start picking up your room, keep your grades and homework done right and volunteer to do the chores without being nagged--then the only danger will be when your folks decide you are too sick to be allowed out of the house!
By all means, invite your parents to EQUICON! They might enjoy it. And if they are bored with our interests, there are many interesting places to visit in the Los Angeles area, and tour buses go to everyone of them! Our Registration Chairperson works as a tour guide at Universal Studios, in fact.)

Food at the Hotel: Be Sneaky, Be Neat

Hotel policies against outside food were very strict in the 1970s. Even the maids were to be feared. Attendees asked:
Could you tell us if there are any drive-in places to eat near the hotel or perhaps a supermarket? My two friends and I are going to eat very cheaply the three days we're in Los Angeles. Money can be a problem sometimes! -Kim P." and "I have a religious dietary problem; can you arrange for the hotel restaurants to accommodate me? -J.N." and "How can a fan eat at a convention? I brought some strawberries into the hotel last year, they stopped me and said I couldn't take them to my room! -B.J.K."
EQUICON 74 will have a guide of places to go for good but inexpensive meals. We don't want our attendees so hungry they faint from malnutrition--which has happened at cons! But play it cool: bringing food into a hotel and eating supermarket goods in your room is taking money away from them, and they rightfully resent that. When you bring something in, don't use an obvious supermarket shopping bag--there are many other things you can carry nibbles in! Don't just carry the strawberries out in the open. When in your room, be sure to clean up after yourself, and put all food away in a drawer; otherwise the maid will report it to management. Try to get food that won't go bad and smell up the room, or make a big mess; keep to high protein stuff instead of sugars, too! No, we cannot take on the job of handling everyone's dietary problems, sorry. Make your own arrangements with the hotel's restaurants AT THE TIME OF ORDERING: it is very inconsiderate to take up everyone's time fussing about it this early in the game: the restaurant can only do its best.

The Naked Lady

Apparently, during the 1973 Masquerade contest, several female costumers appeared in something less 'costumey' and more 'au naturel.' One attendee writes:
A friend tells me that you're going to have a rule in the costume ball against the Naked Lady. If this is true, how childish and stupid can a convention get? - Irate."
(It seems childish and stupid to insist on bugging us about this when letter campaigns should be directed where they will do the most good: at Supreme Court! The recent change in obscenity laws has made hotels very nervous; we found that word passed quickly in the hotel business and the first thing mentioned was the recent nudity at costume balls--not just at Star Trek conventions, by the way. We don't care to run the risk of having future cons turned down by GOOD hotels in every city in the U.S. because of someone's foolishness, even if you and your "friend" could care less! Meanwhile, some people may have to resort to creative imagination for their costumes, instead of cheap thrills. Sorry about that!)

Boys Dressing Up

Why don't you have a contest for boys? Fashion shows are fine for girls, but we need something better: -Fred F."

(HOLD IT! The costume design contest is open to all sexes, and is a fan PARTICIPATION thing. Don't make it into a sexist bit, OK? Many of our entries were designed by males, and will be modeled by males, too, who will enjoy it. However, if design is not your "thing", try a different-not necessarily "better"--approach and enter the pun contest, the caption contest, the folk song or Phineas Tarbolde competitions, or the Enterprise-in-a-Bottle contest! Or think up a new one for us to try on everyone!)

"Minorities" at the Convention

You guys make a lot of noise about "any race" can come to your convention, but that's so much noise, just like everywhere else, right? -Milt G."

(Migosh. Aren't we cynical today? No it's NOT just so much noise! STAR TREK Conventions have drawn greater numbers of Black fans than any other fan con, and the numbers seem to be growing--and that's very nice indeed! Our committee does not have a Black member, but that's because no one has volunteered yet- -we aren't picky: if someone is willing to work, they could be PLAID for all we care! We do have Orientals, Chicanos, Italians , Amer-Indians, and other neat nationalities. Every religion is represented, I think ... We would like to hear from anyone who feels they were really discriminated against at any kind of fan convention: which con, when, and who did it!)

Disabled Fans and Inclusion

Is there any way my handicapped brother can attend the convention? Will Star Trek fans be nice to him? -V.G."
(If you mean MAY your brother attend the convention, YES, of course! We have had Star Trek fans in wheelchairs or on braces and crutches; some who are epileptic, and with other handicaps. All FANS are welcome, and we will do our very best to accommodate anyone who needs a little extra help. Star Trek fans are very nice people, by and large: they were responsible for a goodly donation at Equicon 73 to Sophia Salvin School for Handicapped Children--where Katwen Trimble, age 9, and daughter of John & Bjo Trimble, attends school. Katwen is mentally retarded. So are some of her little friends, who will be at EQUICON 74, and none of them worry about people being nice to them; they KNOW the Star Trek fans will be understanding and friendly!)

Ode, and a Tsk Tsk, to the Fire Marshall

An ode to the Fire Marshall:

REMEMBER THE FIRE MARSHALL? Well, Mr. Frazier is still on the job, and unless we enjoy having to stop the convention and replace all the chairs where he wants them (and by law, he has the right to close-down any public meeting that does not comply--sigh!), then everyone better plan on being their own watch-dog! Replace chairs when you see them out of place, remind smokers--who ALWAYS need reminding, unfortunately--that smoking isn't allowed, and in general, let's police ourselves so that the Fire Marshall doesn't have to! It doesn't do any good to get childish about it; the man has authority over us, and there's nothing we can do about that! All we can do is try to see that EQUICON 74 flows smoothly IN SPITE OF FRAZIER, and the only way to do that is to obey every legal stricture he lays down (we plan to check and make sure that there is a law on some of the things). Bugging the Fire-Marshall may seem like good sport, but all it will do--especially in this case--is to make him drag out every single out-dated and obscure law he can find to slap on us and make the convention suffer! So, the word is: PLAY IT COOL, and hopefully, the Fire Marshall will too. After all, there are good reasons for most fire laws in public meeting places, so however unpalatable it is for us fun-loving conventioneers, those laws are for OUR protection. Our real gripe is the dedicated way this particular Fire Marshall nitpicks over totally unimportant trivia!

Smoking at the Convention:

(One lovely moment at Equicon 73 occurred when [Fire Marshall] Frazier entered the banquet and lit a cigarette. Craig Miller told him to put it out; that we didn't allow smoking in any of the rooms, and especially where food was being served. Definitely a case of "tit for tat"!)

Early Equicons 1971-1972

The early Equicons focused on general science fiction and fantasy and were held in a smaller venue in Santa Barbara. In 1973, more Star Trek programming was added and for that reason the 1973 Equicon is called "Equicon I" by many fans. The convention also relocated to Los Angeles, CA to handle the larger crowds.

1973

Equicon 1973 was held April 19–22, 1973 at the International Hotel near the Los Angeles, CA airport.

This "Equicon" was considered by many fans to be the "first Equicon" and is often referred to as "Equicon 1."

For much more, see Equicon/1973.

1974

Equicon 1974 was held April 12–14, 1974 at the Marriott Hotel in Los Angeles, California.

There was no Filmcon counterpart this year.

For much more, see Equicon/1974.

1975

Equicon 1975 was held at the El Cortez Hotel in San Diego on May 24–26, 1975. It was combined with "Filmcon 3."

For much more, see Equicon/1975.

1976

Equicon 1976 was held at the LAX Marriott on April 16–18, 1976. It was combined with "Filmcon 4."

For much more, see Equicon/1976.

Canceled: 1977

The 1977 Equicon was canceled due to "multiple problems" and returned again in 1981.

The Trimbles explained:
The 1976 convention was not planned as a final one; plans were afoot to have a 1977 EQUICON:FILMCON with a bright newcomer, Mark Hamill, as Guest of Honor. So much for well-laid plans: difficulties with Bjo's health (at that time; vastly improved now!) and the needs of our growing children caused cancellation of our EQUICON:FILMCON plans. [9]
The convention made a return in the 1980s. According to Boldly Writing:
"The small fan conventions, however, were fading as professional conventions grew. Even the organizers of the large fan-run convention in Los Angeles, Equicon, canceled that event in January 1977. Reasons ranged from increased competition by professional conventions to an increase in appearance fees by actors to an increase in rental fees for movies."[10]

1981

Equicon 1981 was held April 17-19, 1981 at the Sheraton Plaza La Reina Hotel in Los Angeles. It was combined with "Filmcon 5."

For more, see Equicon/1981.

1985

Equicon 1985 was held in April 5-7, 1985 at the Sheraton Universal, in Universal City, CA.

It was an 18th birthday present for Lora Trimble.

For more, see Equicon/1985.

1986

Equicon 1986 was held in Pasadena, CA over Easter weekend.

For more, see Equicon/1986.

1987

Equicon 1987 was held in April 1987 in Hollywood, CA.

For more, see Equicon/1987.

1988

Equicon 1988 was held the first week of April at the Sheraton-Universal Hotel, Los Angeles.

For more, see Equicon/1988.

Canceled: 1989

Equicon 1989 was canceled in two ways: both in name, and as a reality.

John Trimble and Bjo Trimble dropped "Equicon" all together in 1989, and attempted a revival of Filmcon in its original format. [11] This con, however, did not take place, nor did any thereafter.

See much more at Proposed Filmcon 11 (1989).

Attempts at Replacement

The cessation of "Star Trek Lives!" cons and Equicon created a hole in many fans' lives, and they either turned to the Schuster Star Trek Conventions, quit going to cons, turned towards smaller regional cons, or, in the case of the chair of August Party, attempted to created a new series of Star Trek cons. From a January 1978 appeal:

From Kolker's description in Ambrov Zeor #6 (January 1978):

Every year, science fiction fandom holds a World Science Fiction Convention. The site and committee for these conventions are picked by the fans themselves from among bids submitted by various groups in different cities. No matter how many other conventions are held through the year, this is the one central gathering for fans of science fiction and fantasy.

There is no such gathering in STAR TREK fandom. In past years, fans east of the Mississippi routinely went to The Convention in New York while those west went to Equicon, but neither of those early conventions exist any more.

Moreover large conventions have become almost the exclusive preserve of large commercial outfits, not connected to fandom other than in the fact they make money from it.

Therefore I propose that fandom begin working on plans to take control of at least one convention back into its own hands. That we begin work on the World Star Trek Convention.

Although details, of course, have to be ironed out, Washington's Birthday weekend has a certain amount of connection with fannish tradition and should be ideal for the convention. [12]

References

  1. Source: The Fan's Little Golden Guide to Throwing Your Own Con.
  2. "When we tried to trademark EQUICON:FILMCON, only to discover "Filmcon" was in use elsewhere, so technically we could not use it. We subscribe to the "A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME..." theory, so no plan to phase out the use of "Filmcon", reverting to simply EQUICON. We won't drop the CONCEPT of FILMCON; it merely means a shorter, more easily pronounced convention title. With the stronger emphasis on aerospace, there is more programming utilizing real space talent at this new EQUICON. Suddenly we aren't just a "Star Trek" or a "Film" convention any longer, but a greater, broader event than either!" -- from the 1981 Equicon program book
  3. "We're shelving EQUICON & reviving FILMCON once again! Only this time, it'll cover all types of film & television entertainment: Science Fiction, Westerns, Costume Epics, Comedies, Mysteries, etc. This exciting concept will be the ultimate media con, worth travelling from all over the world to see! Stars you've only dreamed of meeting; cast & crew from major films & TV shows: past, present & future, will be invited to speak, sign autographs, & be available to their fans as they've never been before. Plan your Summer Vacation for mid-June of 1989!" -- from an undated 24-page progress report for a 1989 con that did not take place.
  4. There was an 1981 Equicon, but it appears to have been a failure. See Equicon 1981 for more.
  5. Actually, her name is not "Laura" but "Lora."
  6. Actually, it was Lora's 18th birthday present. From the cover of the program book: "You're reading this message because John & Bjo Trimble foolishly asked their daughter Lora what she wanted for her 18th birthday on April 4. She was waiting for that opportunity. The answer is happening all around you -- Equicon 85. Just as the Hobbits give presents to others on their own birthdays, so Lora is giving you a present on your birthday. She hopes you enjoy it."
  7. "Bjo and John Trimble in Conversation with Bristol Starfleet Registry" issue #18 (1987).
  8. from Trek Times #2
  9. from the 1981 Equicon program book
  10. page 35.
  11. "We're shelving EQUICON & reviving FILMCON once again! Only this time, it'll cover all types of film & television entertainment: Science Fiction, Westerns, Costume Epics, Comedies, Mysteries, etc. This exciting concept will be the ultimate media con, worth travelling from all over the world to see! Stars you've only dreamed of meeting; cast & crew from major films & TV shows: past, present & future, will be invited to speak, sign autographs, & be available to their fans as they've never been before. Plan your Summer Vacation for mid-June of 1989!" -- from an undated 24-page progress report for a 1989 con that did not take place.
  12. from Rich Kolker in Ambrov Zeor #6